AI War:Starting Out
I'm Just Starting Out -- What Should I Do?
Q: I'm a new player, and I don't yet have that great a feel for the game. What should I be doing at the start of a new campaign?
A: First of all: you have played the tutorials, right? They teach you the basics of what everything is, how to control everything, and some of the unique features of this particular game. Assuming that you've played through the tutorials, I'm interpreting your question as "What are my goals in the early game?"
Here's a list of what you might want to look at first (in order):
- Set up an effective perimeter around all of the hostile wormholes on your home planet.
- This will often be 5 turrets per hostile wormhole, plus 1 tractor beam turret. Adjust as needed, and feel free to experiment with mines, tachyon beams, etc.
- At the very start, you can also opt to go on the offensive instead, and only build significant defenses when you get your first raid warnings. You may wind up rebuilding some lost harvesters if you take this route, but it can also lead to advantages on the first AI worlds you attack.
- Send out scouts to find out as much as you can about all nearby planets.
- Build all 10 of your Mark I scouts, and send them out in groups of 2 along different paths into enemy territory.
- When all the scouts have died, build some more and send them out on different paths, in larger groups if need be.
- Prioritize the nearby planets -- if there are Data Centers, Advanced Research Stations, or Advanced Factories, go for those.
- Often there are no such high-value targets very nearby. If that is the case, focus on more scouting until you find some, as well as the goals below this one in the meantime.
- Capture most (or all) of the weak planets adjacent to your home planet, to help protect your core resource production facilities.
- The planets with the most metal/crystal are of particular interest.
- If you are really hurting for resources, you may want to consider unlocking the Economic Command Station Mark II or upgraded Harvester technology from the ECON tab.
- If higher-level enemy planets surround you, then you will either want to punch through them to the planets beyond with your transports, or build up larger forces to fight them off early. This will be hard until you get some higher-level ships.
- Gain the knowledge from your home planet as well as all the planets you capture.
- If you have allies, you should all gain the knowledge from each others' planets, too.
- Research some technologies -- if you're new, try starting with the Mark II and Mark III technologies, and maybe a starship or two.
- You start with 10,000 knowledge, which will let you have access to pretty much any starting technology, or several technologies depending on which you choose.
- Higher-level bombers can make attacking nearby forcefield-protected planets easier. But you can also use siege starships or bomber starships for that.
- Higher-level scouts can help you get the intel data you need, if you are having trouble with that.
- Economic technologies can help you bring in more resources or produce/repair ships faster.
- Most other technologies give you various offensive or defensive military capabilities, so explore them and unlock them as the situation (and your preferred playstyle) warrants.
- Keep scouting, upgrading your scouts if you have to, and look for Advanced Research Stations. Capture any that you find.
- Once you find a single Advanced Factory, protect it well! Put up a force field around it. You'll only need to capture another Advanced Factory for yourself if your first one gets destroyed (and there are a limited number of them, so be very careful that too many don't get destroyed!)
Beyond the early list
This is a pretty good list that can actually last you for the first 3-5 hours of the campaign, if you're on a map with unfavorably-located Advanced Research Stations. The core idea, however, is that you want to make yourself as strong as you can while at the same time keeping the AI Progress number as low as you reasonably can (things get more difficult the higher that number goes). Beyond that, take a look at your secondary objectives and decide if you want to pursue any of those. See what sort of special ships are on the planets you scout, and decide if you want to pursue any of them. Look for the two home planets of the AIs, since those are where you're ultimately heading, when you're strong enough.
There are a great many choices that can be made, and what you choose to do will largely depend on your play style. How aggressive or conservative are you? How open to risks? Are you willing to lose a big chunk of what you already have in order to make a quick grab for something else? It also depends on what new ship types you unlock, and what extra ship type you started with. Some are offensive-oriented, some are defensive-oriented; some are stronger than others. No matter what you choose to do, what secondary goals you try to shoot for, what unique obstacles might be presented to you on a given map, your most central directives are always the same:
- Know as much about your surroundings as possible (Scouting)
- Protect your existing holdings as well as possible (Defense)
- Take anything valuable that the enemy has that you want (Offense)
- Maximize your ability to build ships (Metal, Crystal in pre-8.0 versions)
- Maximize the strength of your fleet (Knowledge)
- Maximize the size of your fleet (either Knowledge or Advanced Research Stations)
- Keep the AI Progress low (destroy Data Centers, avoid taking low-value targets)
- Find the AI Home Planets and destroy them for the win!
- How Do I Know What Difficulty Level To Play On?
- What Difference Does The Map Size Make?
- How Do I Get More Ships?
- What Do I Do With My Older Ships?
- How Do I Use The Priority Buttons In The Galaxy Map?
- Do Shots Miss Sometimes? (Plus All About Armor)
- Should I Micromanage Ships In Battle?
- When Should I Be Worried About The AI Progress Getting Too High?